Saturday, 8 October 2011

ARC Review: Darker Still - Leanna Renee Hieber

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

Magic Most Foul Series:
Darker Still
The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart
Titles & release dates for further books in the series are currently unavailable.

Visit Leanna Renee Hieber's website for more information

Review:
I've had Leanna Renee Hieber's Strangely Beautiful series on my wish list for a long time now so I was very excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of the first book in her new Magic Most Foul series.  Darker Still is a fantastic Gothic paranormal story set in Victorian New York and I loved it. 

The story is told in the form of diary entries written by our heroine, 17 year old Natalie.  Natalie is a beautiful, intelligent young woman but since the trauma of witnessing her mother's death as a child she has been unable to speak.  Her father loves her dearly but is unsure how to cope with her and she has spent most of her childhood in an asylum with people suffering from various mental illnesses.  She has now come home to live with her father but is treated as an outcast by society because she is unable to speak and is very unlikely to make a suitable marriage because of her disability.  Natalie's father works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and she manages to convince him to get her a job there, afraid that he will send her back to the asylum if she doesn't find something useful to do. 

It is at the museum that she first sees the painting of Lord Denbury.  She has already heard of the mystery surrounding the painting, the subject disappeared not long after the painting was finished and is presumed dead and there are rumors that the painting itself is haunted but she is just intrigued by the amazing detail in the picture.  Famous spiritualist Mrs Northe has her heart set on buying the painting and she quickly takes Natalie under her wing.  The more time Natalie spends with the painting the more she starts to believe that there is something suspicious going on, she is positive that Lord Denbury moves when she isn't looking and starts to wonder if she really is insane after all.  It doesn't take long before she discovers that something much more sinister is going on though, the real Lord Denbury has been trapped inside the painting but can she find a way to help him escape and who put him there in the first place?

Natalie is a great heroine, she has led a sheltered life but is smart and resourceful and you really get to see her grow throughout the story.  She is terrified of the things that she sees and has to face but is equally determined to find a way to help Lord Denbury.  It makes a nice change to read a book where it is the heroine who has to rescue the hero rather than the other way around.  I also loved the fact that the story is set in Victorian New York, I've read a lot of books from that era set in London and this made a refreshing change.  I liked Lord Denbury, he is sweet and passionate but doesn't really have a major role to play in his own rescue.  Trapped as he is there is little he can do but stand by and watch as Natalie faces the dangers on his behalf and I'm hoping he will have a more active role in future books in the series.

I don't want to tell you more about the story because I think you need to read the book and discover it for yourself so I'm just going to say that if you like books with a historical setting, strong female characters and a paranormal twist that is different from the usual vampires or werewolves then Darker Still is a must buy.  I loved Leanna Renee Hieber's writing style and have purchased her Strangely Beautiful series which I can't wait to start reading.  I will also be first in the queue when it comes to picking up the next book in the Magic Most Foul series.

Source: I was given a copy of this book at AADPhilly in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
Loose Knickers and Window Lickers
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

5 comments:

  1. I have the first book in her other series still on my shelves. I love the sound of this one and must read it some point.

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  2. I've read a book before where a character is lured into a painting... Teresa Flavin's The Blackhope Enigma.

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  3. Well, it must have been inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which only makes me want to read it more. Intriguing review, thanks!

    Seems like there are a lot more supernatural historicals coming out.

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  4. Such a beautiful cover. Def. want to pick this up when it comes out in the Netherlands. :)

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  5. @ Viv - I bought the first 3 books in Leanna's other series at the AAD signing and am really looking forward to reading them. This one was fab so I'm sure I'm going to love them :o)

    @ Nikki-ann - I'd never heard of The Blackhope Enigma before, would you recommend it? I'll have to keep an eye out for it if you do

    @ Lia Keyes - I did see something somewhere saying this was inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray but I can't remember where I found it. I've never read the original so I didn't make any comparissons in my review but I'd be interested to see what you think of it.

    I'm really enjoying the historical supernatural stories, I love anything paranormal and am really starting to get into historicals so anything that combines the two is good with me :o)

    @ Nina - it is such a pretty cover isn't it! I'd definitely recommend picking up this one when you can :o)

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